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October 2011

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31 October 2011 - Virgin Helps Qantas Passengers

Posted by: Alan

 Qantas has certainly been in the news over the last few days.

Regardless of your political opinions on the situation, the grounding of the entire Qantas fleet worldwide was a very brave move.

The response from Qantas' main Domestic Rival, Virgin was fast!
Regardless of whether you like them or not, you have to admire Virgin for attempting to 'make hay while the sun shines'.

Within a very short time, they were offering ‘stranded passenger’ recovery fares at a 20% discount on Saver Fares for travellers affected by  the Qantas fleet grounding.

As an agency, we are proud to report that everyone who booked through us has been assisted in a timely fashion.

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28 October 2011 - Statue of Liberty Has New Webcams

Posted by: Alan

Five webcams have been fitted to New York’s Statue of Liberty. Fixed to the statue’s torch, they’ll go live today, offering sweeping views of the city and its harbour.

The switch-on will come as part of a ceremony marking the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the copper-clad monument, which was a gift from France to the people of America.

Public access to the torch section ended in 1916 after an explosion at a nearby munitions depot was at first thought to be German sabotage.

Since then, the sweeping views have been seen by only a handful of maintenance workers.

Following today’s celebration, the statue will be closed for about a year for major renovation.

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27 October 2011 - Road to Hell Birthday

Posted by: Alan

A UK motorway dubbed the world’s biggest carpark is 25 years old this Saturday.

The M25 London orbital road, which almost completely encloses greater London, runs for 190kms.

Designed to handle 100,000 vehicles a day when then PM Margaret Thatcher opened it on 29 October 1986, it now tries to cope with double that number.

Last year there were 793 accidents, with eight deaths.

And in 1989 it inspired the hit song ‘Road to Hell’.

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26 October 2011 - London Hotel Closed After Renovations

Posted by: Alan

The entire contents of an upmarket London hotel are due to be auctioned today.

The Howard, a sister hotel to the Savoy, closed last month after owners of the site, on the north bank of the Thames, decided to replace the building with a block of apartments.

The 189-room hotel had undergone $2.3m worth of renovation just eight weeks earlier, according to the Evening Standard.

The newspaper says today’s auction will see each room being sold as a single lot, including the bed, coffee table and chairs, wardrobe, safe and mini bar.

Also up for grabs will be the hotel’s chandeliers, kitchen equipment and even the front entrance revolving doors.

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25 October 2011 - Underwater Golf in the Maldives

Posted by: Alan

Now there’s no reason to leave the water.
Avid golfers beware, there is a new course on the horizon which may require land lubbers to acquire sea legs.

The course involves the creation of a series of artificial islands which would float on the Indian Ocean around the Maldives overlooking local reefs.

Connected by underwater walkways, the course and its facilities would be powered using solar energy, and according to its developers, Dutch Docklands, would “not damage the Maldives region”.

If all goes to plan, golfers should expect to tee-off in the middle of the ocean by 2015.

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24 October 2011 - St Pauls in London Closed

Posted by: Alan

Anti-global finance protesters have forced the closure of St Paul’s Cathedral in London for the first time since World War 2, denying thousands of tourists access to the site.

Cathedral officials closed the landmark to visitors on Friday, a week after the protesters, calling themselves ‘Occupy the London Stock Exchange’ began setting up tents in an area at the front of the building in a copy of New York’s ‘Occupy Wall Street’ action.

Officials said they acted for safety reasons, after appeals to the protesters failed.

Some 200 tents have now been erected around the building, which attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists each day.

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21 October 2011 - Do Not Try To Eat This Breakfast

Posted by: Alan

Eat the breakfast at a hotel on England’s south coast and it’ll have you in stitches - it consists of knitted wool.

The Pelirocco hotel in Brighton opened a guest room on Wednesday which is crafted almost entirely out of colourful knitted creations.

It’s the work of designer Kate Jenkins, who with two assistants spent a month knitting items for the gimmicky ‘Do Knit Disturb’ room.

Decorations and furnishings include knitted cushions, curtains, a vase of flowers, a bedspread containing 100 different colours and original crocheted pieces of art.

The lampshade, telephone, teapot and cup are also covered with crochet and there is even a knitted tube of toothpaste and a knitted fried breakfast

The team used five kilos of yarn to achieve the look.

Miss Jenkins, who has her own knitted clothing, homewares and gifts brand, called Cardigan, told media: "I wanted it to look tasteful not twee".

"Some people say that knitting is for grannies, but to me it’s always been stylish".

The room costs £55 (about $85) a night on weekdays and £69 (about $106) at the weekend.

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20 October 2011 - Cunard Line to do Weddings at Sea

Posted by: Alan

Cunard has formally announced a decision to re-flag its three liners under Bermuda registry.

The move, which will see the word Hamilton, instead of Southampton, appearing on the stern of each ship, will pave the way for weddings at sea.

However, website cruisecritic says a change in British law requiring European Union workers on UK-registered ships to be paid the same as British workers is partly responsible for the move.

It says Cunard employs a lot of waiters and bar staff from Eastern Europe.

Announcing the change of registry, flagged several weeks ago, Cunard said yesterday that a weddings-at-sea program will be launched next year, after the ships have completed world voyages.

Bookings will be taken from this December.

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19 October 2011 - Paris Ritz to Close for Renovations

Posted by: Alan

The Ritz hotel in Paris is going to close for more than two years for what management calls an "unprecedented renovation project".

The property, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, and where his son Dodi and Princess Diana dined before their fatal car crash in 1997, hasn’t had a major facelift since 1979.

The hotel says the 160 guest rooms will retain their traditional style, while "latest technological innovations" are added.

The work will get under way next European summer and will take about 27 months to complete.

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18 October 2011 - Work To Start On New Sydney Cruise Terminal

Posted by: Alan

Sydney port authorities are going to start work this month on a cruise terminal at White Bay, despite industry and local government opposition to the project, the Sydney Morning Herald reports today.

At the same time, Leichhardt Council, where the site is located, says it will fight the move, claiming the project will lead to traffic pollution and restrict public access to the harbour foreshore, the paper says.

News of the go-ahead by Sydney Ports also comes as the tourism industry awaits the findings of an independent review relating to Sydney cruise ship needs.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced several months ago that Dr Allan Hawke had been appointed to assess whether cruise ships can be given access to Navy-controlled Garden Island.

Garden Island is seen by cruise operators as the only viable berthing site (other than Circular Quay) for large liners east of the Harbour Bridge.

The biggest ships cannot access berths west of the bridge, which is where White Bay is located.

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17 October 2011 - Rugby Result Not Good For Airlines

Posted by: Alan

Australia’s loss in last night’s Rugby World Cup semi-final in Auckland spells bad news for trans-Tasman airlines.

The match prompted a last-minute burst of travel ex Australia last week, according to Air NZ.

And an Australian victory would likely have sparked an even bigger rush for next weekend’s final.

"We’ve seen a huge number of Australians jumping on planes to get over for this weekend", Air NZ gm for Australasia, Bruce Parton, told the NZ Herald on Saturday.

Australia’s ‘bronze’ playoff against Wales this Friday is unlikely to ignite much interest.

Nevertheless, Air NZ says it expects a $NZ30m (about $21m) windfall from the tournament - down from an original forecast of $NZ40m.

The figures were revised after the Christchurch earthquake forced cancellation of matches scheduled for that city.

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14 October 2011 - Sydney Voted Number 1 by US Travellers

Posted by: Alan

Sydney has beaten Paris and New York to be voted the world’s number one city by readers of a luxury travel magazine.

The Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards, held in New York, voted the harbour city their favourite spot.

More than eight million votes were cast in the awards with readers rating cities according to ambience, friendliness, lodging, restaurants, culture, sight-seeing and shopping.

NSW tourism minister George Souris said it was the second major international award for Sydney, which was named the world’s best festival and major events city by the International Festival and Events Association last week.

"Winning this latest award demonstrates Sydney’s position as a world leading destination and the gateway to Australia," Mr Souris said in a statement.

"It’s a vote of confidence not by travel writers or agents, but by ordinary travellers.

"By definition, this makes us Australia’s leading tourism and events city and will help the government in its quest to restore NSW to its position as the nations premier state."

The readers of Conde Nast Traveler gave Sydney a score of 85.1, ahead of the next highest scoring city, Florence at 85.

Most Conde Nast Traveler readers live in North America.

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13 October 2011 - Ryanair May Remove Toilets From Their Aircraft

Posted by: Alan

Ryanair, the budget carrier which talked of having standing-room-only ‘seating’ in its planes and using flight attendants to help fly them, has come up with another offbeat proposal. It’s reportedly looking at removing two of the three toilets on its Boeing 737s to make room for more seats.

"It would fundementally lower air fares by about 5%", chief executive Michael O’Leary told The Independent newspaper.

"We rarely use all three toilets on our aircraft anyway".

Ryanair planes carry 189 passengers and Mr O’Leary says it’s asking Boeing to re-certify the jets to add six seats.

The airline, often criticised for its plethora of add-on fees, has previously threatened to charge passengers to use toilets.

It has also made headlines with suggestions that flight crew could be cut to just one pilot and flight attendants trained to help land planes in an emergency, and a proposal for a form of stand-up seat which would allow more passengers to be packed on to its aircraft.

The Independent quotes Boeing as saying it’s always listening to what customers need, but doesn’t discuss proposals publicly.

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12 October 2011 - Australian Year of the Farmer

Posted by: Alan

Australia's city dwellers have been urged to head to the country during next year's 'Australian Year of the Farmer'.

The call accompanies the release of research data showing that some 25% of Aussies never venture into rural areas.

And two-thirds do so less than once a year.

In total, city people spend an average 3.5 days a year in the country, with 58% saying they'd like to visit more often.

The 'Australian Year of the Farmer' aims to strengthen ties between rural and city communities, and emphasise the importance of farming to the nation's economic and social fabric.

A number of events and educational programs are planned during the year, including a roadshow, an agricultural expo, a national school education challenge and a photo competition.

The official launch will take place today at the site of Australia's first European farm in Sydney' Royal Botanic Gardens.

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11 October 2011 - Free Trips to Japan

Posted by: Alan

Japan is going to provide 10,000 foreigners with free flights to the country to try to boost tourism in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, and the nuclear crisis which followed.

The Japan Tourism Agency will invite online applications, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reports.

Successful applicants will be expected to write a report on their free trip and these will be published on the Internet.

Tourism authorities hope that positive reports will ease concerns about visiting the country.

Visitor traffic plunged 50% after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami which triggered the nuclear crisis, and was still down 32% in August.

The Japanese government says the country is safe to visit except the area in the immediate vicinity of the crippled nuclear plant.

The free travel program, which apparently does not include accommodation and other land costs, will reportedly get under way in April.

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10 October 2011 - The Leaning Tower of Big Ben

Posted by: Alan

London’s famous Big Ben clock tower is tilting, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.

The paper quotes civil engineers as saying that the tower, part of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, is leaning towards the northwest at an angle of 0.26 degrees, meaning the top is 43.5cms from vertical.

Monitoring instruments show that the tilt has been increasing by about one centimetre a year since 2003.

But it will take 4000 years or so for it to match the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

John Burland, a senior research investigator from Imperial College London who has worked on Big Ben and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, told the Telegraph: "The tilt is now just about visible.

"You can see it if you stand on Parliament Square and look east, towards the river".

He says he has heard tourists who visit the area to take photographs saying that they don’t think the tower is quite vertical "and they are quite right".

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07 October 2011 - Conjoined Sheep Star in Video

Posted by: Alan

How appropriate - Air New Zealand is showing its true Kiwi colours, with its latest YouTube campaign featuring two conjoined sheep.

Named Mason and Jason, the odd pair are depicted in a series of new videos enjoying the new SkyCouch - which is ideal for the inseparable animals because the "cuddle class" gives them plenty of room to relax.

The videos are now online here and here and here .

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06 October 2011 - London Eye Becomes a Restaurant

Posted by: Alan

The London Eye Ferris wheel has become a restaurant for the 2011 London Restaurant Festival, which kicked off at the weekend.

Diners prepared to pay to price for a meal have been able to hire the Eye's 10-person pods for £12,500 (about $20,000).

More than 800 eateries across the UK capital, ranging from local pubs and curry houses to Gordon Ramsay dining rooms, are taking part in the festival - the third, two-week annual event of its kind.

Special menu prices range from £10 to £30.

The London Eye is one of Britain's top paid-for attractions, drawing 3.5 million visitors last year.

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05 October 2011 - Taj Mahal Collapsing

Posted by: Alan

The Taj Mahal will collapse in less than five years unless the Indian government acts to prevent a growing environmental catastrophe, campaigners have said.

Conservationists and politicians say the foundations of the historic mausoleum are rotting because they have dried out, Britain’s MailOnline reports today.

The 358-year-old tomb, one of the architectural wonders of the world, is built on a foundation of mahogany posts sunk into wells fed by the Yamuna River in Agra, north India.

Now the river is running dry as a result of pollution, industry and deforestation.

Campaigners believe the foundations have become brittle and are disintegrating.

Cracks appeared last year in parts of the tomb, and the four minarets which surround the monument are showing signs of tilting.

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04 October 2011 - Self Service Cars in Paris

Posted by: Alan

Parisian leaders wheeled out the first of the city’s blue, bubble-shaped cars at the weekend in what aims to be one of the largest self-service electric car schemes.

Anyone with a driving licence can pick up one of the four-seater electric ‘Bluecars’ for short journeys around the city, dropping it off at any battery point, The Guardian newspaper reports.

The Autolib service follows the French capital’s success with Velib, a self-service bike scheme.

The $260m car scheme is the brainchild of the city’s Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, to deal with traffic, pollution and the nightmare of parking - even though more than half of Parisians do not own a car.

It has launched with 66 cars and 33 rental stations across Paris, with planned expansion to 3000 cars cars and more than 1000 stations by the end of 2012.

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03 October 2011 - Most Expensive Hotel Room in the World

Posted by: Alan

Most Expensive Hotel Room : Royal Villa at Grand Resort Lagonissi, Athens - from $50,000 per night.

Featuring a dedicated butler, chef and pianist, the Royal Villa overlooks the Aegean Sea, which you can view from a private pool with a hydro massage device.

The room has all the luxuries you would expect for the price tag such as a marble-lined bathroom, oversized walk-in wardrobe and a private terrace.

If you find a reason for leaving the room, the hotel offers a state-of-the-art spa and 10 restaurants, many of which have been awarded the five-star diamond award.

The resort also has a private Lear jet to fly guests around the Greek Islands.

Can’t afford $50,000? Beachfront bungalow rooms at the resort start at a mere $900 per night.

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